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#NoStruggleLove: Why Are We Expected to Hold Down Our Partners?

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I had a difficult pregnancy. I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, pytalism, and malnutrition. I was sick my entire pregnancy. There were a lot of things I wasn’t able to do for myself. My wife took on a lot. She scheduled and attended my appointments, kept track of my medications, and adjusted her schedule so she would be able to take me to and from work. When I was hospitalized during my first trimester we discussed the possibility of me taking leave from work. She agreed to work overtime, and if necessary, find a second job. And although I managed to work until the day I was induced, I took comfort in knowing my wife would take care of us if I could no longer work. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive partner. Now that we have a child, her commitment to our family is something I can’t describe.

I am often told that I am lucky to have my wife. She is dedicated, hardworking, generous and nothing is more important to her than the needs of our family. She dotes on me and our daughter. But, I don’t consider myself lucky. I deserve a dedicated partner and co-parent.

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It seems somewhere along the way, Black women have been conditioned to believe we don’t deserve to have partners who protect us and provide for us. We’ve been conditioned to believe it is our duty to hold down and uplift our partners, at our expense, especially when those partners are Black men. We’ve all seem the memes, posts and tweets that push the narrative that we have to endure periods of struggle , in hopes that he’ll provide and take care of us once he’s ”made it”.

It’s my opinion Black women suffer from a savior complex. The only difference is, our sacrifices don’t result in praise and cookies. It results in trauma. The idea that we are expected to accept Build-A-Bear men, that we have to create, guide, save, coddle and parent, causes trauma.

And I know, I know… not all men. But it’s enough to make this an epidemic. Black women everywhere are being emotionally manipulated into staying in toxic relationships with men who are only with them because of what they get out of it, not what they put into it. Fuck that.

Black women no longer have to accept struggle love because society has convinced us that asking for more makes us gold diggers. Black women no longer have to accept struggle love because we are afraid our partners will leave us. Black women no longer have to take care of their children AND their children’s father. Black women no longer have to put themselves on the back burner, so they can spend their money, time and energy taking care of grown ass men. Say no to struggle love.

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We are expected to have our lives in order before we are acceptable and respectable partners. Men want to know if we have children, a home, a career and a degree and low body count before deeming us worthy of their love. But God forbid we ask their FICO score. We can’t expect anything or demand anything from them, yet, they often believe their mere interest in our bodies is enough to carry a relationship. And if that relationship results in children, you can be sure the struggle will only worsen. Because apparently, demanding a man care for his child is a broke woman’s hustle, and it enslaves the Black man. But, that’s a whole ‘notha story for anotha’ day.

If you read my story about my former husband, Chuck, you know I once endured struggle love, which left me alone and in debt. So, before I got serious with my current spouse, I knew what I would and would not accept in our relationship. I knew that I wanted someone as emotionally, mentally and financially committed to me, as I was to them. I wanted a partner who would make me a priority. I wanted a partner who was more interested in having a partner and not a parent. I wanted a partner who was ambitious, who supported my goals and dreams as I supported theirs. I no longer wanted struggle love.

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Creighton Leigh
Creighton Leigh is curious amalgam of failure, fear, hope, dreams and perseverance. She's a wife, mother and writer who loves olives and cheese. She's an avid collector of salty tears. In her spare time she enjoys dismantling the cis heteronormative patriarchy. She's Senior Editor for SimoneDigital.com

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